This profile was prepared when Radoslaw Gawlik was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Since communist rule, a time when there was little concern for environmental protection among citizens or public authorities, Radek has remained forefront in engineering a vibrant, cross-sector environmental movement in Poland. A master organizer and strategic planner as both a citizen activist and politician, Radek has institutionalized significant legislative and policy changes as well as initiated multiple environmental protection programs. Having recognized that an effective environmental movement requires dialogue and cooperation between the citizen sector and government, Radek has set the path for cross-sector solutions and partnerships in Poland in response to environmental degradation.Among the pioneering environmental laws and programs introduced by Radek is the first definition of sustainable development incorporated into Polish law, a definition that drew heavily upon his experience working with environmental organizations. He also designed the first political body dedicated to cross-sector collaboration in the area of the environment, leading to the adoption of public-citizen partnerships in other fields of government work. A further innovation initiated and implemented by Radek is a unique system of independent legal structures to support ecological activities at the community level. The first system of its kind, the program has transformed the local incentives for preservation. The introduction of Ethics Cards for citizen organizations (COs) is yet another successful endeavor spearheaded by Radek. In each of these instances Radek identified an opportunity to foster cooperation between COs and governmental bodies in a manner that was previously unheard of in the area of environmental protection in post-communist Poland. Most recently, Radek has applied successfully his approach of cross-sector partnerships in another model endeavor on a regional scale that aims to develop the standards for the protection of the Baltic Sea. Radek is engaging environmental organizations, citizens, business entrepreneurs from fishing industries, and governments from multiple countries to implement the first long-term, regional strategy for the protection of the Baltic Sea and its sustainable development.